Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Yes, You Can Roast Frozen Vegetables. Yes, They're Delish.

Good commercially frozen, organic if possible, frozen vegetables have a lot going for them. They're as nutritious as fresh, if not more so since they're frozen quickly after picking, they're convenient, and quite often they're significantly less expensive than fresh, especially in the winter when the vegetables often look carsick from their long trip from the farm. At this time of year, there still isn't too much local in the farm markets, and even though it is certainly spring, there isn't local abundance yet. Plus, if you are a vegetable eater in a household of picky eaters, sometimes a frozen veg is only way to get any variety on the table without having to toss a lot of uneaten fresh food. Makes eating well way easier. Personally, I happen to like Brussels sprouts and asparagus year-round, even though they both have definite seasons. So I buy bags of organic frozen asparagus and Brussels sprouts at the grocery store. Eating frozen lets me eat out of season, without resorting to eating produce shipped halfway around the world.

Roasting frozen vegetables gives, IMHO, a much better end result than either boiling or steaming frozen vegetables. Remember, they have been blanched prior to freezing, so they are already partially cooked.

I often roast frozen broccoli or Brussels sprouts in the morning, early, before work so I can take a roasted vegetable for lunch. I can just use a half bag of frozen broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts or green beans, and leave the rest frozen for another day or meal. The thing to remember if you'd like to try roasting frozen vegetables is that they'll give off more water than their fresh counterparts, so you really, really can't crowd them in the pan.

The recipe: ...I lied. There is no real recipe. Preheat the oven to 425ºF.  I thaw mine first, either in a strainer under running water for a minute or so, or in the microwave and pat dry as much as possible. Cover a rimmed jelly roll pan with foil, dump on the vegetables, and drizzle them with olive oil, and season as you'd like. At least some salt and pepper.  Spread the veggies out so that they are not even remotely touching, and pop the pan in the oven. Give them a stir in about 15 minutes, and they should be done in another 10 to 15, depending on how brown you like your vegetables, and how big the pieces are. Big cauliflower chunks may take 5 minutes more. I like to drizzle the hot vegetables with a bit more oil, some chopped scallions or chives, and some balsamic vinegar and take them to eat cold or at room temperature for lunch at work. Just remember, skinny, narrow stuff like green beans, haricots verts and asparagus will take much less time, so keep an eye on those vegetables.

Here's the batch of Brussels sprouts I made this morning to take to work for lunch today. They look pretty dandy, don't they? They were.

Roasted Frozen Brussels Sprouts, and just enough for one!